Thursday, 28 April 2011

Business Advice Part 1

I said I would be sharing some business advice with you over the next few weeks, and below is my first installment. My experience has been as a small business owner so these thoughts are largely directed at SME’s and entrepreneurs, but I’m sure anyone in business will be able to relate.

Please feel free to post your comments (good or bad) and let me know if any of this has been a help to you.

1. Look After Your Clients

No matter what business you’re in, you won’t survive (let alone thrive) without clients. They are the people who pay the money which allows you to put food on your table and pay your rent or bond. Without them you don’t have a business.

Stats show that it costs 8 to 10 times as much to get one new client as it does to keep a current client. That’s why you need to do everything possible to keep your current clients coming back to you.

We often hear that we give poor service in South Africa, and while in some cases that might be true, you can use it to your advantage. Assuming that your prices and the services you offer are the same as your competitors, you can keep customers coming back to you by giving them better service than anyone else.

Better service doesn’t mean constantly contacting your clients or bombarding them with emails of your latest offer, because that can drive people crazy. Rather concentrate on doing the basics right.

Always be friendly and courteous. You’ll be surprised how something so simple can result in repeat business. Everyone has a life outside of work, so find out what your clients’ passions are. You won’t believe what a difference it makes to your relationship if you can spend a bit of time discussing golf, fishing, fashion, cars etc before trying to secure an order. 

When you’re asked to quote do so as quickly and efficiently as possible, and make sure you include everything your client is asking for.

There’s an old saying which is very apt: “In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king”. In business this translates to meaning that if your competitors are giving terrible service and you’re giving good service, guess who the customers will end up using. Remember that the reverse is also true!

Give your customers better service than they expect and they will always be your customers.

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